Living in a post card

The fog has mostly dissipated – I was still seeing touches of it while going my morning rounds.

My goodness, but it does make things beautiful, this time of year!

I couldn’t resist getting a picture from the same spot as yesterday.

The temperatures are nice and mild right now. As I write this, we’re at -8C/18F, with almost no breeze at all. We’re supposed to reach a high of -6C/21F today. A good day to finish clearing in front of the garage so I can open the doors to get my mother’s car out, and clear a few more paths.

One way we can tell how much more pleasant the weather is, is by the cats.

The usuals are back to preferring to eat on the cat house roof again. In this bunch, there’s only one that’s friendly. I can sometimes pet the black and white, but not often. Still more than I can come close to Broccoli. I don’t know how she’s been with her kittens gone. She’s been avoiding me, so perhaps she’s made an association between me and missing babies. I don’t know. I so want to socialize her more! We’ll have to wait longer before we can try to trap more females. The hard part is waiting for things to warm up, so there’s no chance of a critter freezing in the trap, but not so warm that they start going into heat and get pregnant, first.

Speaking of which, I saw Shop Towel skulking around when I put the food out. While I was switching the memory card on the trail cam (and melting the frost off the lens and solar panel), I heard a cat fight, and am guessing it involved Shop Towel.

Before going in, I tried to get some more pictures of the frost and was able to zoom in to get this little cutie.

We have not been able to keep up with the feeding this winter, because of the racoons destroying the hanging feeder, but the chickadees and blue jays have been raiding the kibble trays, instead!

While getting this shot, something strange in a tree above the storage house roof caught my eye.

Well, I guess we can see who Shop Towel went after! One of his older sons, no less. A couple of the grey and whites are much larger – more like their dad in size.

In other things, I spoke to my mother last night. She’s in need of a grocery shopping trip, which is why I want to clear the doors to her car. She was fully expecting to go to the grocery store today; apparently my sister is supposed to be visiting her, though my mother didn’t seem sure, when I spoke to her. I pointed out to her that it’s New Year’s Day. The stores will be closed. She sounded so surprised when I told her that. 😕 So, if all goes well, I’ll be heading out tomorrow to help her with shopping – in her own car!

For now, I’m monitoring cats. With the littles gone, I actually got a full night’s sleep! The ladies seem relieved to have the room to themselves again – even if Marlee still hisses at Butterscotch and Nosencrantz sometimes. Leyendecker and Cheddar seem to be looking for the littles when they come in. Meanwhile, I now have grandma, who moved out here with us, in with me. My daughters just let me know she’s been behaving oddly, like there is something stuck in her mouth. We thought it might have been something stuck in her throat, but I’ve seen her eating. She seems fine, until she suddenly makes retching faces and started rubbing the sides of her face with her paw. My one attempt to gently move her head for a look had her meow in alarm and run off, so I do think something is hurting her. Hopefully, it’s something that will work itself out. So far, she’s eating and drinking normally. Right now, she’s on my bed, not far from Marlee, and settling in for a nap.

I’ll have to get one of the girls to take over monitoring her when it’s time to get outside.

The Re-Farmer

Year End Review: Our top 10 most popular posts

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve! Let’s take a look at how things have been on the blog for the past year.

As we did last year, we will have two top ten lists. The first will be the posts with the highest number of views in 2022. The other will be the posts actually written in 2022 that got the most views.

All links will open new taps, so you won’t lose your place!

Here are the overall top 10 posts with the most visits, starting from lowest to highest.

10: Fall Garden Update: Crespo squash This one is from 2021. We did try to grow Crespo squash again in 2022, but they did so very poorly. Yes, I plan to try again!

9: Recommended: CS Brews This is from my 2020 Recommended series.

8: Presto, Change-o! I saw a traffic spike to this 2021 post in the fall. I suspect a lot of Canadians were looking for information on pressure canning in 2022. Particularly since we don’t have anywhere we can take the gauges to for calibration.

7: Making Crab apple cider vinegar: airlock or cheesecloth? This post goes back to 2020. In 2022, I saw a large spike in traffic to crab apple related posts. Last year, we had no crab apples to harvest, and I don’t think we were the only ones. This fall, it seems we were not the only ones to have an excellent harvest to do things with!

6: Sourdough Cornmeal Pancakes This one goes back to 2018, and remains a popular post.

5: Chokecherries, ready to freeze This post, from 2019 also sees a jump in traffic in the fall. We, however, have had no chokecherries to speak of for two years in a row, now.

4: Our 2022 garden: Baker Creek seed order is in! Our first 2022 related post – and it was written in 2021!

3: Making kluski; Polish drop noodles This post from 2020 still sees some regular traffic. I also now have the sudden urge to make some kluski! 😄

2: Making hard crab apple cider; will it work? Another post from 2020, and yes, it did. We have a 2022 batch of it fermenting right now, too!

1: Things with crab apples: apple cider vinegar Hmm… I see a pattern here! This post from 2019 saw the largest spike in traffic in the fall I’ve seen in a long time! It looks like crab apples did well for a lot of people in 2022!

I see another pattern in all these popular posts. They are all food related, and all but 2 are related to preserving food in some way!

I think that tells us something of what’s been important to people in the past year.

Now, we have the top 10 posts that were actually written in 2022.

10: First snow A 2022 cat post makes the first entry in this year’s top 10 list, and it’s not even two months old!

9: Cabbages update – and a fundraiser announcement We’ve had so much help from the cat lady and her rescue, but nothing compares to how she went all out in the fight for Cabbages’ survival. I’m happy to say that Cabbages is not only healthy and happy with the Cat Lady and her family, but her treatment is now being used as a case study by other vets, in the treatment of other severely ill cats. Saving Cabbages is saving the lives of other cats!

8: Large batch crab apple cider vinegar The crab apple theme continues!

7: Hard Crab Apple Cider follow up – I am the Queen of Procrastination! The end results of hard apple cider, that was started in 2020.

6: Getting Cozy (crochet talk) The cozy I made for my tea mug has disappeared. I think the cats dragged it off somewhere!

5: Thoughts on being prepared Okay, I just got distracted by reading this post over again! It remains quite relevant. With the winter storms that have just passed through much of Canada and the US a short while ago, I truly believe this is something we all need to consider, no matter where we live. There is one thing I would add to my commentary. We’ve found that ghee, purchased in restaurant quantities, can be a LOT cheaper than buying the jars in the grocery store. Ghee is a shelf stable butter, and would be an excellent addition to a preparedness pantry!

4: Remembered to order: from Lee Valley I’m rather curious about why a post about getting a sharpening stone and holster for our scythe got this much traffic!

3: Sometimes, I hate being right (convoy talk) The use of the Emergency Measures Act against legal, peaceful protestors has gone through its mandatory committee investigation. The investigation – as biased as it was – proved that there was absolutely no reason for it to have been invoked, and that our Prime Dictator and media repeatedly lied about the convoy. But will anyone be held accountable for it? Of course not. Our Prime Dictator should have resigned years ago, the RCMP should have laid charges against him (but didn’t, for political reasons) – and that was even before he went full dictator – but there has been zero accountability. And most Canadians have no idea what happened, or are too apathetic to care.

2: Two pounds! Another Cabbages update.

1: Recommended: RoseRed Homestead – That “Woman with a gadget” This is from my 2022 additions to the Recommended series – which I still need to add to the list under the Recommended tab! Rose Red Homestead is well worth taking the number one spot for 2022.

Well, the themes for the most popular 2022 posts are a lot more diverse, but not one of them made the overall list. Not by a long shot!

What I am seeing seems to show a trend towards people looking for more information on how to grow and preserve their own food.

After the past three years, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Food security has become a huge priority for so many!

Photo by Pixabay on

Here’s to a better year in 2023 for us all!

The Re-Farmer

We have such good neighbours!

I wasn’t planning on writing a post today, but I just had to share. What an awesome Christmas surprise!

When I turned on the tablet and the live feed to the garage security camera, there was something different about our driveway.

I could see grass.

We’d only been able to clear the driveway just wide enough for a vehicle to drive through, not wide enough to uncover any grass.

Someone had cleared our driveway, and we never heard a thing!

When I went out to switch the memory card on the trail cam, I could see that this was not done by our lovely neighbours, and the renters of most of this property. They would clear our driveway with their front end loader. These were ordinary tire tracks. I could see that someone drove in, clearing the driveway on one side, almost up to the burn barrel, backed up to turn around, then cleared the other side on the way out.

Of course, the first thing I did was check the memory card to see who did it and when.

It turned out to be a pickup truck with a plow attachment. It’s one I recognize and see every winter, but I’ve never been able to see the driver’s face. I had no idea who it was. Also, it was done in the early afternoon! We were busy making our dinner at the time. On the trail cam, I could see the truck go by and stop on the road, then back up to our driveway and go in, then out again – just two quick passes to widen our driveway. Normally, we would have had the gate closed and locked, but with this weather, we’ve been leaving it open. He basically took advantage of that!

So I sent a message to someone I figured might know who it was, and got a name of who it could be. I was able to send a message to that person, and it was confirmed. It turned out to be someone who was a neighbour when I was growing up, and still lives in the area, though now further away. I’ve known him for most of my life, but I don’t think I’ve seen him since we’ve moved back here. In fact, after all these years, I probably wouldn’t recognize him if I did.

We have such good neighbours! It so makes up for the problems we’ve been having with our vandal!

There is other good news. The littles are settling in quite well! Walnut already settled in almost immediately, but it getting even more exploratory. The bitty tabby is also getting better, and not running away quite as much.

Then, last night, I woke to feel a cat curled up against my leg. It was completely dark, but I could reach my phone and try for a flash picture.

Yup! It was the bitty tabby!

The bitty and Walnut have been wrestling and napping on my bed a lot more. During the night, I could feel them walking across me and the bitty – which I could recognise by the almost negligible weight – even curled up on my thigh to sleep. Then, this morning, I was able to pick the bitty up and snuggle him for a while, and he even settled in and start purring, rather than staying tense and running off.

Also, yes. The bitty is now confirmed male.

Unfortunately, we’ve still had no luck getting his sibling in the sun room. After my last failed attempt to catch it, it’s even more skittish. I was afraid that would happen!

It is already noticeably warmer out there, though. Not the actual temperature – at least not that early in the morning – but the wind has finally stopped! What a difference that makes!

While doing my rounds – and checking out the driveway! – I ran the van for a bit. My daughter’s Christmas gift to the family is going to be Chinese food. We’re pretty sure the place we usually order from will be open, but if not, we have a back up plan. It does mean driving to town, though, so I wanted to make sure to start the van and run it for a bit.

I just realized I forgot to plug the block heater back in. I’d better take Walnut off my chest and go do that now!

Yes. I have a little kitten curled up on my chest and napping as I write this.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The Re-Farmer

Good company

If you’re going to have someone invade your space while you’re in the bathroom, you can’t do better than David.

He loves that sink.

He fills that sink!

What a chill, laid back, precious boy!

Then there’s these guys.

By the time I’m done my morning rounds, the outside cats have finished eating and are settling into their favourite spots to hang out. The littles just love sitting on top of the board the heat bulb’s fixture is attached to! They don’t hang out under the bulb, which you’d think would be warmer. They like to be above it!

While doing my rounds, I did a bit of shoveling, but the snow is deep enough, we’re going to have to clear the driveway. Not because it’s too deep to get out, but because I don’t want it to accumulate too much the next time it snows.

We’re supposed to get more snow today – 97% chance of precipitation – and a high of -11C/12F this afternoon. The next two days are supposed to have highs of -16C/3F, which still isn’t too bad. It’s the wind that’s going to make it miserable. After that, we’re supposed to start going below -20C/-4F, or close to it, probably for the rest of the year – depending one which app I look at. Another tells me we’ll be around -10C/14F during the week around Christmas, which is about half what my desktop app tells me. Well within the 30 year average, either way, so not a major concern. It’s January and February that are typically the harshest. The AccuWeather website has long range forecasts all the way to March 16 and, according to them, January and February are going to be downright tropical, compared to the last few years! If they’re right, we’ll be warmer than -10C/14F for most of those two months!

I’m not counting on that. 😄

It’d be nice, though.

I was happy to see the road seems to be well plowed. I say “seems to be”, only because everything is so glaringly white, it’s blinding. We’ll have no problems getting out anywhere, if we need to.

With the Christmas and New Year’s holidays coming up, it changes when my husband’s disability payments come in. CPP Disability, which typically comes in just a couple business days before his private insurance payment, will be coming in on the 21st. Which means (weather willing) that’s when I’ll be making a trip to the city for what will not only be our last Christmas dinner shop, for the fresh things we won’t buy in advance (we don’t really buy gifts anymore), but it will be our first large shop for January.

I’m not looking forward to shopping so close to Christmas, but it does mean we will probably not need to do any sort of major trip again until next year.

We can go back to turtling into our shells again!

The Re-Farmer

First Sunday of Advent: Hope

Normally, we would have started more decorating for Christmas by now, but none of us it up to it, yet. As of now, I’m the least sick person in the household!

I did want to get our Advent wreath set up, though.

Normally, it would have tiny decorations added to it, and a white candle in the middle, but the ornaments are still in their boxes. So I added its mini light string, and stuck our miniature nativity scene in the middle.

We also usually set it up on a counter between the dining room and kitchen, but for now, it’s on the dining table.

We’ll catch up on the rest, later!

May this first Sunday of Advent see your heart rise up in Hope.

The Re-Farmer